Special Dish for the Week: Bigos

At this chily yet festive time of the year, I seek comfort in one of my favourite Polish dishes, which I plan to share with some friends, and I make this great cabbage, sauerkraut, mushrooms and meats sensation for this Special Dish for the Week:




Also known as the Polish Hunter’s Stew, bigos is a warming and filling dish from the old country. I try to get as close to the basics of unprocessed foods of the olden days as I can manage in modern day Canada, and even only at the 2nd day of cooking, the flavours have already intermingled and the meats have softened.

The following ingredients, with a few “Maggifications”, make up this hearty traditional dish:

  • chopped and sautéed onion* and mushrooms*
    • Onions, mushrooms and cabbage, with their surlfuric compounds, are some of the main anti-cancer foods.
  • coconut oil, for sautéeing (a little more if using lean meats)
  • stewed bison meat cubes (or shoulder pork), cut into bite size pieces
  • sausage, cubed into bite size pieces (free of nitrites and other preservatives)
  • small white cabbage*, thinly sliced in 4 cm long pieces
  • at least 1 kg saurkraut, unpasteurised and fermented with salt (no vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp plum butter, or 2 plums (optional)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • black pepper, to taste
  • few small chunks of kelp, cut into thin small pieces (optional)
Bigos Dish

Bigos Dish

This dish can very well be made in a single large pot on the stove, or the onions together with mushrooms and the bison or pork meats can be sautéed separately, and added to the large pot once their flavours have intensified during sautéeing. The slightly softened sautéed meat, when cooled, is also easier to cut into smaller bite sizes.

The key to its success, however, is patience. It needs to stew over low heat for several days, adding water from time to time to maintain the stewy consistency (and prevent burning). It can be mixed with a large wooden spoon from time to time.

Once made, portions can be frozen and/or shared! It can be served on its own, with bread, or with mushed potatoes.

Spinach Salmon Quiche

Spinach Salmon Quiche

On this occasion, I serve it as a first course of a Christmas dinner party with a couple of friends. The main course is a delicious and interesting spinach quiche with a corn tortilla as the base in place of a typical quiche crust—my friend’s wheat-free invention. For dessert, which was so tasty that it was enjoyed before a picture could be taken, we served my friend’s apple and rhubarb crisp.


Special Dish for the Week: Vegan Butter Chicken

Dipping once again into some of my favourite subjects after which a recipe book from some good friends was named, “Food and Love”, for this Special Dish for the Week, I “Maggify” their version of:

Vegan Butter Chicken

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices

Containing neither butter nor chicken, this recipe has the flavours and textures of the butter chicken dish. The key to this dish are the spices—and lots of them—which in my version of this dish include:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 in. grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
Vegan Butter Chicken Spices Intensified

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices Intensified

Using coconut oil as my oil of choice for this dish, I sautée first the chopped onion, and then add the remaining spices. Sautéeing the spices is said to intensify their flavours.

I add a can of coconut milk, 1/2 a can of tomato paste, some water, a small bunch of chopped cilantro,  and a small amount of finely shredded kelp—which sufficiently salts the dish, adding good quantities of various minerals and much needed iodine. I let these gently simmer while I prepare the veggies.

In another pot, I cook up some soaked over night red lentils, adding some more finely shredded kelp. In my rice cooker, I cook up some soaked over night brown basmati rice. And I begin to chop up the following veggies:

  • 1 yam
  • 1/2 cauliflower chopped into small-medium bits
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 can of navy beans (chopping highly optional)
Vegan Butter Chicken

Vegan Butter Chicken

After adding the veggies to the simmering “vegan butter chicken” sauce and simmering those for a few minutes, I then add the cooked lentils, adding water for desired consistency.

I serve the “vegan butter chicken” with a side of rice, garnish it with cilantro, and proceed to turn the vegan dish vegetarian by adding a dollop of organic plain Greek yogurt to complement the spiciness of the sauce. My Santé, machine à manger wine glass from friend filled with Bordeaux accompanies this hearty, nutritious and warming dish—as does the seasonal red poinsettia. I light my beeswax candle, thinking fondly of my honey lady from the downtown farmers market, and give a cheers! to the universe for providing all these reasons for contentment.

Meal ideas & recipes from the “Food and Love” book from some good friends and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: InspireHealth Barszcz

Not the barszcz I know and love since my childhood, this Special Dish for the Week is nonetheless very delicious, of course nutritious, and filling:

InspireHealth Barszcz

InspireHealth Barszcz Ingredients

InspireHealth Barszcz Ingredients

This recipe arrives in my mail with a letter from InspireHealth, contributed by Mirella Russell, who was given the recipe by a friend, and now I pass it on, naturally Maggified! It reminds me actually of my morning smoothies, so I wonder if it also works well as a chilled gazpacho.

The preparations begin with coarsely chopping an onion and sautéeing it in coconut oil.

Next, the following are washed, not peeled, and cubed to fit in my small electric chopper, a few handfuls at a time. The recipe calls for grating, but I don’t have the energy to do it manually.

  • 3 beets
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 apple
InspireHealth Barszcz

InspireHealth Barszcz

While these all simmer in the pot with the onions and enough water for desired consistency, I cut in some:

  • chopped green onions
  • chopped stems of cilantro

To spice things up a bit, I add:

  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs coriander
  • toss in some sea salt
  • grind in some black pepper
  • splash in a 2 tbs of Bragg soy sauce

In under 30 minutes, the chopped veggies soften and the flavours intermingle. I use my hand blender to purée half of the soup, tasting it for flavour and texture. I surprise myself how well it turns out. The apple adds sufficient sweetness, so I omit the suggested honey.

I serve the soup with a dollop of plain yogurt and some chopped cilantro leaves. I enjoy a glass of French red Beaujolais-Villages wine gifted by some friends. I find the wine to be quite delicate in flavour, which pairs nicely with my two helpings of the hearty soup on this uncommonly chilly Vancouver evening.

Meal ideas & recipes from InspireHealth Barszcz recipe in the mail.